Home arrow News arrow Terry Mendoza - Retro Photostudio
Terry Mendoza - Retro Photostudio
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Terry Mendoza, of Retro Photostudio in Essex, has been working professionally for ten years. Initially he developed a retro/ pinup style, which has been popular with rockabilly clothing companies, burlesque performers and vintage magazines.

More recently he has been using a more contemporary style, working with more mainstream fashion and lingerie companies providing a complete package of casting models, shooting and retouching.

Being of inquiring mind we wanted to know how Terry got into photography and how he approaches a commission.


Image by Terry Mendoza using Cloud Grey Photography BackgroundWhat got you into photography and why?

Photography has been a passion right from my schooldays. I would book time in the school darkroom to process and print photos. Special effects fascinated me, the ability to conceive an image, which had never existed in reality. I enjoyed dodging and burning, and creating photo-montages by physically cutting and pasting images and re-photographing the results. I'd create in-camera effects, double exposing, using masks in front of the lens to create "twins", or setting the camera lens to a small stop to "sit" a friend in a small model car - the car in question being very close to the lens, and the friend the other side of the garden!

Are you inspired by a particular photographer (s)? And why?

There are so many talented photographers out there that one is really tough. I really love the work of Joanna Kustra - her portrait work is stunning... her impeccably made up and styled models and lighting gives a remarkable signature style and her post-production is utterly captivating. I've admired Robert Alvarado's pinup work for many years, and more recently have been very impressed by Chrissy Sparks (Dollhouse Photography) retro imagery. I am also in awe of Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz (AurumLight Studio) with his painstaking photography and post production, creating retro styled images of models wearing "dresses" of poured milk.

Image by Terry Mendoza using Cloud Grey Photography BackgroundAre you working on any personal projects? Can you tell us a little about them?

My work primarily involves shooting fashion for look books and editorial, so lately I've had little free time to work on personal projects. However travelling a lot gives opportunity to practice street photography, which I really enjoy. My Nikon D800 is hardly inconspicuous which adds somewhat to the challenge!

I'm a licentiate of the Societies Fashion and Glamour and submit work to their regular contests - there is no better way to push standards than to pit your work against top photographers...it really helps to raise your game. I particularly like submitting work in fields other than fashion as that pushes me outside my comfort zone.

My most recent assignment was to shoot a catalogue and editorial for Amazing Woman label - they produce a wide range of luxury jeans and knitwear. For their brief I'd recommended Loren Peta, a stunning model with whom I'd worked several times before. We'd planned three days shooting catalogue shots for their new website devoting the fourth day to location shooting.

Image by Terry Mendoza using Cloud Grey Photography BackgroundAs they were going for a contemporary look I used the Creativity Background Cloud Grey background paper, lit with a couple of Bowens units on the background, metering to give incident light reading of f8. I used one Bowens with Octabox, also metering to give f8 as my key light. I usually have my subject at f11 so the background would be one stop darker, but here the client wanted a pale grey background. For a contemporary harder specular feel to the light I removed the front diffuser from the Octabox.

The catalogue days went off smoothly, but it was obvious from the sheer numbers of items to be shot that we would not finish the product shots on day three. For day four we decided to devote a half day to catalogue and half to editorial. The designer loved one of my prop settees, so I prepared to shoot the editorial in the studio. Then, on the day she had a change of heart and asked if we could shoot on location. Fortunately I'd previously scouted an area near the studio which had a choice of varied backgrounds within a small area. This would where we would shoot. I suggested we head straight to the location whilst the sun was lower, but the client wanted the catalogue images shot first, then we could have lunch before going to the location. And so it was that our editorial full day shoot actually started at 2:30pm, with the sun high in the sky...and intermittent patchy clouds, just to ensure lighting conditions changed on a frustratingly regular basis throughout the afternoon! I'd brought along a couple of Nikon speed lights, small Ezybox softbox and stand, a large diffusing umbrella and several diffusers / reflectors.

Image by Terry MendozaThe grungy rusty backdrop wall was partly in shadow, so I directed Loren to pose in the shadow area, then used the softbox to light her more flatteringly. We then moved to some wooden steps, then down to a rocky area - the latter two areas being in harsh sun. The same procedure of using the multiple locations was repeated with successive outfits. The company boss found himself appointed as voice-activated lighting stand, tasked with holding the large diffusing umbrella over the model to diffuse the harsh ambient light. Once again the softbox acted as key light.

The client was very pleased at the way the shoot turned out - we succeeded in shooting nine outfits, each effectively in three separate locations...and all within a two hour timeframe!

Did anyone give you any advice when you started? What was it?

I've had no formal photography training, relying on books and the Internet - one educator I admire is Scott Kelby...and I'd recommend his books on photography, Lightroom and Photoshop. If you get the opportunity, invest a day on one of his courses...inspirational hints and tips. One helpful tip is to "work the scene": after getting the shot I've visualised, I then move around the model/scene, recomposing continuously. It is a way of getting a series of different looks, maximising possibilities of the setup. Clients love the choice.

Image by Terry MendozaIf you had one piece of advice for someone coming into the industry now, what would it be?

Find a niche you enjoy, and practice your skills constantly.

 

What's your favourite bit of kit?

It has to be my Nikon 70-200mm 2.8. It is a beautiful lens, great for fashion, portraits and nature. I only realised how much I relied on it early this year. We had an amazing trip to Antarctica to get up close to the penguins. On one of the trips ashore moisture entered the front element (this was the mk 1 version of the lens) even though I had a Kata raincover on the kit. Back on board ship the lens steamed up internally before seizing solid. Disaster. On my return I found out it was uneconomic to repair, so replaced it with the mk II version...having it back was like renewing acquaintance with an old friend.


Terry Mendoza on the web

Website: www.retrophotostudio.co.uk

Twitter/Instagram: @retrofotostudio

Facebook: Retro Photostudio Page

Linkedin: Terence Mendoza

Photos used by kind permission of "Amazing Woman"

 

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